In this combination image from video, former first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich speak during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. Credit: Democratic National Convention via AP

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In the age of COVID-19, the entire idea of a convention had to be re-imagined and recreated, in a new digital image.

The first night of the Democratic National Convention had the feel of a telethon, filled with emotional and earnest appeals, tugs at the heart strings and calls to our better angels.

With marquee names such as former first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich making the case for former Vice President Joe Biden — and against President Donald Trump — the night was an example of what’s possible during an impossible situation.

If the Democratic National Convention came across a little like a telethon, then you can guarantee that next week’s Republican National Convention will play more like a stomach-turning reality show.

Trump, a reality star who has run a ratings-seeking, chaotic three and a half seasons of an administration, could produce nothing less.

Already, we’ve been told that the guy waving an AR-15-style rifle at Black Lives Matter protestors while wearing a pink polo shirt in front of his palatial home and his hand-gun toting (muzzle-discipline-lacking) wife will participate in the convention.

Of course they will.

As of this writing, the full list of speakers for the RNC hasn’t been released. But I think we know what to expect.

Except to hardcore Republicans, who seem content to believe whatever crazy nonsense flies unfettered out of the president’s mouth, next week’s Republican National Convention will look and feel like a carnival show of white grievance, divisive rhetoric, anger and altered reality.

In this presentation, we can expect COVID-19 to be under control, the economy to be strong and growing stronger, and an assault pending on white housewives living in the suburbs. (None of this is true).

We might see disgraced former members of the military, pardoned by a president with little understanding of the U.S. military or its culture. Huckster businessmen selling snake oil they say will fight coronavirus.

Maybe Trump will hold a Bible aloft, or project an image of his face on Mount Rushmore. Or perhaps he will literally hug the flag or wrap himself in it.

Will conservative religious leaders surround the president, laying hands on him and tell the story of how he was chosen by God? Or will Trump place his hands on a glowing orb from Saudi Arabia? Both?

Will the convention save space on stage for QAnon? Or just wink and nod at the dangerous conspiracy theories clinging to the fringe of the Republican Party? Will the racism be overt?

The president, enabled by FOX News and other right-wing media outlets, has spent his entire administration trying to create a fake world, where the rules of science and math don’t apply, where he is the hero of every story and no president has been treated worse.

For Democrats, many unenrolled voters and a few thoughtful Republicans, the Republican National Convention will be hard to watch and even harder to believe.

Trump’s convention will match his presidency: There will be no rules, no decency, little truth. We will be called to believe our worst impulses, to fear other people in our community, to believe that fellow Americans are the “enemy of the people.”

The Republican National Convention will make “1984” seem like a modest fairytale of government overreach. Next week, I’m expecting a dystopian soap opera, built to shock, to anger and to divide.

As Michelle Obama said Monday night while talking about the president, “it is what it is.”

The president has no case for re-election. He’s failed to keep our country safe, bungled a global pandemic that’s killed more than 170,000 Americans and devastated the U.S. economy, and has attempted to destroy American democracy and the institutions that protect it. No honest person would argue that we are better off today than we were four years ago.

What we will see is four nights of fiction. A dystopian, glowering horror show.

Get the remote and the antacids ready. We’re going to need both.

David Farmer is a public affairs, political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children.

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David Farmer, Opinion columnist

David Farmer is a political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children. He was senior adviser to Democrat Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor and a longtime journalist....